Navigating Connectivity Options for Micro Markets

Micro markets require connectivity to allow customers to pay at the kiosk, check their account balance, report inventory levels, allow diagnostics, update firmware, provide sales data, and more. In today's post, we'll discuss the various connectivity options for micro markets.

The connection types include Local Internet Connections, local Wi-Fi, purchased air cards, MiFi, jetpack, purchased hardware, and data plans, and fully managed solutions. It’s important to evaluate the benefits of each one to figure out which option will fit your needs in order to reduce downtime, speed up the installation time, cut down service calls, provide help with troubleshooting, save money, and generate more revenue.

Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons to help you determine which connectivity option is best for you.

Existing Local Internet Connections

Pros Cons
  • No monthly data costs
  • Decent bandwidth speeds
  • Getting permission from IT can be a lengthy process and involve high implementation costs
  • Possible need to open firewalls or to enable security rules with IT can be burdensome
  • Static IP connections are rare
  • Can suffer from spotty internet service or poor download/upload speed
  • Local IT may be resistant or unwilling to troubleshoot your potential internet issues

Local Wi-Fi

Pros Cons
  • No monthly data costs
  • Not a secure connection method
  • Limited range or distance
  • Network names and passwords are subject to change
  • Slow connections
  • Wi-Fi may not be PCI compliant

Purchased Aircard, MiFi, or Jetpack

Pros Cons
  • Set-up is fairly simple
  • Monthly data costs
  • Subject to either overage or slowing after certain data thresholds
  • To reset lost connections usually requires a manual power cycle
  • Designed for personal, not commercial use

Purchased Hardware & Set-Up Data Plan

Pros Cons
  • You have full control of the hardware and data plans
  • Monthly data costs
  • Setting up the configurations with all of the different options can be difficult for a novice
  • Coordinating data plans to be as low as possible without hitting overages can be a balancing act
  • Maintaining portfolios with software versions can require dedicated resources to communications
  • Unlikely that you would want to coordinate both billing and data plans with more than one carrier
  • If only using a single carrier, some locations may suffer from poor coverage or limited bandwidth

Managed Solutions

Pros Cons
  • Single source of contact 24/7 support
  • Ease of installation for virtual plug and play. When specific routing or settings are needed, dedicated technical support to assist set-up
  • Security, connectivity, profiles, firmware are handled
  • Ability to have multiple carriers and just pay one bill
  • Carrier options to provide the best coverage and bandwidth in any given area
  • Purchase and lease options available
  • Monthly data costs
  • Possible threat to job security for dedicated communication staff

Based on your company’s needs and how many resources are being allocated for communications, an evaluation of the listed pros and cons should help determine which method of connectivity works best for you.

With more pros than cons, managed connectivity is always a great option for micro markets. By outsourcing the mission-critical component of connectivity to a dedicated team of experts you can be sure to have the greatest uptime and reliability available. To learn more about how OptConnect provides reliable fully-managed connectivity for micro markets, click here.

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